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WHWT - Part 5 -necks, leg, body

As with other breeds you will find Westies with necks that are too short or
too long.(picture #29) The Westie neck needs to be muscular and broad at
the base where it is well set on sloping shoulders. (pictures #30-32) The
head should not appear to set on the shoulders. If you have ever watched
Westies kill rodents, you will see that they usually do it with one
snap/shake of their head. To do this they need a neck that is muscular and
which is neither long and slender, nor short.(pictures #32 & 33) No
matter how attractive that long, swanlike neck is, it is not practical for
the job the Westie was expected to perform and should be faulted. Both
thin necks and short necks are a result of incorrect shoulders; thin necks
usually being the result of upright shoulders.
All pictures referenced above can be viewed at:

Regarding the front assembly, as mentioned earlier, the Westie's shoulders
should be sloping. The standard further states the blades are to be
well-laid back and well-knit at the backbone. Well-laid back blades set
the withers behind the neck and not into the neck.(pictures #14, 32, 34) An
imaginary line dropped from the withers to the ground should fall down the
leg and through the foot, not behind the leg. If the blades are not
well-knit, the dog has a tendency to a paddling front action. The blades
should be attached to an upper arm of "moderate" length. This is usually
taken to mean the upper arm is approximately the same length as the
shoulder blade. As for the forelegs, they should be relatively short
(about the length of the upper arm), muscular and well boned, but as
mentioned earlier they should have sufficient length to set the dog off the
ground. Leg length does affect how long or short backed the dog looks.
(picture #35) Forelegs should be reasonably straight and set in under the
shoulder blades, with elbows close to the body. With correct shoulders and
upper arm angulation you should, when viewing from the side, see the
'overhang' the standard asks for.(pictures #34, 36, 14, 15) Sad to say
with straighter shoulders and short upper arms we are tending to lose this
feature.(picture #37) The coat at the elbows should be blended short so
that it doesn't fly when the dog moves. If there is too much coat left
here, it can give the illusion the dog is out at the elbows. As mentioned
under skull, if the head is narrow, you will probably find that leg bone is
not adequate, no matter how large the leg looks due to grooming. Pictures
# 35-38 can be viewed at

The standard says the feet may be turned out slightly. (picture #38) No
way do we want a Westie with an east-west or fiddle front, or more turnout
on one foot than the other! Even with the slight turnout there should be
the straight line from shoulder to front foot when the dog is in motion.
This slight foot turn out, if present, is more noticeable in a dog whose
leg furnishings are still sparse. When the furnishings are thick, the feet
are usually trimmed so that you won't see any turnout, only feel it on
exam. The slight turn out should in no way affect the dog's movement.

When examining the Westie you should find a compact, strongly built body.
(pictures # 39, 14-16, 21) This does not mean broad, low and/or long
(picture #40). The chest should be well let down, extending to the elbows
and you should be able to get at least 3-4 fingers between the front legs.
(pictures #41, 42)
The ribs should be deep and well arched in the upper half, then taper, and
there should be considerable depth to the back ribs. This gives the
appearance of the flattish sides and results in the desired 'keel' as well
as giving the "cobby" appearance to the body. Specifications regarding
depth of chest and back ribs are important features of the breed related to
its work as an earth dog. A Westie without enough spring/arch in the
upper half of the ribs will likely have legs that are too close together.
Barrel- chested Westies on the other hand usually are out at the elbows.

The loin area should be short, strong and broad with some width across it
when looking down on it. When you feel the loin it should be firm and
strong under your outstretched hand. Because of the depth of the back
ribs and the short loin there is almost no perceptible difference in the
width of loin to the width of the chest or the hip, when looking down on
the dog.

Nowhere does the standard ask for a short back. Rather the considerable
depth of back ribs, with the short loin (coupling) and the correct front
assembly leads to the 'shorter back'. (pictures #14, 16, 21, 30, 32)
There are several references in the standard to a back/topline that should
be straight, level, flat. This means that there should be no dip behind
the shoulders, no sloping from shoulders to tail (picture #43), nor any
falling off in front of the tail. This is another area where you need to
use your hands and not judge solely on what you see, as a good groomer can
hide these faults. (picture #44) The reverse is also true, as it doesn't
take much of a grooming error to make a topline look incorrect.
Pictures # 43 & 44 can be seen at

part 6